Chicago Bears (2-2) at Las Vegas Raiders (3-1)
The Bears are 2-2, but one of their wins came against the awful Detroit Lions, while their other win came by just 3 points over the Bengals in a game in which they won the turnover battle by 3, but lost the yards per play battle by 1.22, which is much more predictive. Meanwhile, their two losses were not at all close. Their once dominant defense has been middling at best, thanks to several off-seasons of significant departures, along with some injury absences, but the biggest problem by far has been their offense, which ranks 29th in the NFL in first down rate.
I expected the Bears’ offense to struggle mightily coming into the season and for their defense to not be nearly good enough to compensate and so far that has proven true, even if they have managed to go 2-2. It’s possible the switch to Justin Fields under center instead of Andy Dalton will provide a spark for this offense, but that’s far from a guarantee and hasn’t really proven to be true yet. On top of that, the Bears’ offensive issues go far beyond the quarterback position, most notably their issues on the offensive line and at running back, where the Bears are now without their top-2 expected running backs with David Montgomery out indefinitely.
The Raiders haven’t been as good as their early record either, but they’re clearly the better of these two teams, as the Bears rank as the 5th worst team in my roster rankings, 7 points below average, where the Raiders are slightly above average overall. The Raiders’ offensive line and running game aren’t nearly as good as they have been in recent years, but Derek Carr is throwing to an improved group of young receivers and their defense has taken a big step forward, in large part due to a dominant pass rush, led by free agent acquisition Yannick Ngakoue. My calculated line has the Raiders favored by 10 in this matchup, so we’re getting enough line value at -5.5 for the Raiders to be worth a small play this week.
Las Vegas Raiders 24 Chicago Bears 13
Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -5.5